Saturday, 29 May 2010


Sr Ann Marie, FRANCISCAN LIFE, has presented this Blog with a Sunshine Award. I am very pleased to receive an award - it's my first - and I thank Sr Ann Marie for her kindness. The reward comes with a few simple rules.

The rules are as follows:

1. Post the logo on your blog and/or within the post.

2. Pass it on to 12 other bloggers.

3. Add links to these 12 bloggers within your blog.

4. Let them know they are receiving the award.

5. Share the link of the person from whom you received the award.

I follow and enjoy many blogs and I have found it difficult to pick twelve but here are the ones I have chosen. Take a look at them and I think you will find them interesting and informative too.

Thank you, Sr Ann Marie. You have given me a great boost! God bless you.

Friday, 28 May 2010


This Blog is dedicated to the last Welsh martyr, St David Lewis, so I don't want it to stray far from our beloved Saint or to become personal. However, as you all know, I have been away for two months because several members of my close family were seriously ill. You have all been so kind and given me so much support that this post is to say "THANK YOU" to all of you and to pay tribute to my dear brothers and my wonderful family.

Even though I thought that the pride and love I felt for my large family could not be greater, I was wrong. It has increased with every day of the last two months as I watched them all, from the oldest to the youngest, support and help each other as two brothers were travelling their final journeys at the same time. At first, they were both in the same hospital and the family made its way between fourth and seventh floors to visit and comfort them. Later, as one brother was moved to Palliative care in another hospital, the love was carried back and forth between the two hospitals. Finally, on the morning of Friday, 14th May, my eldest brother, Bill, went to God with the prayers and blessings of the Church, and with his wife and children at his side. The next afternoon, Saturday, 15th May, my second eldest brother, John, also with the Church's prayers and blessings and his family at his side, went to meet his Lord. They had never moved far from the family home and for most of their married lives the two brothers lived next door to each other, one at number 19 and the other at number 21. Years ago, when any reluctance was shown at 'Family Rosary' time, my dear Dad was fond of quoting Fr Peyton, "The family that prays together stays together". I suppose that living so close together and then dying so close together proves my Dad right!

The neighbours made sure that everyone was well fed and sandwiches, cakes, cooked hams and turkeys were in abundance. The support of friends, neighbours and childhood friends, some of whom we hadn't seen since school days, was overwhelming. They turned out for the wakes and funerals in their hundreds!

And you, my loyal Blogging friends, you have been marvellous! Your supportive comments and your prayers have been a great blessing and I am grateful to all of you.

My eldest brother, Bill, made Rosary Beads and donated them all around the world. He sent them to Missions in Africa, India and South America, as well as to Primary Schools and Prisons in Wales. John also had a great devotion to the Rosary and his favourite hymn was "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman". As a small "THANK YOU" to everyone and as a tribute to my gorgeous big brothers, (who probably spoiled me rotten!) I am posting this lovely song. To all of you, family, friends, neighbours and blogging friends, I say a heartfelt thank you and wish you blessings galore. May your kindness be returned a hundred fold!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010



Catholics who settled in Newfoundland suffered under the harsh Penal Laws, that body of discriminatory and oppressive legislation focused chiefly against Roman Catholics, but also against Protestant nonconformists.

Followers of Catholicism in English Canada faced great adversities in their efforts to establish their faith in the new country. This was partly due to the religious disdain of the English majority towards those who refused to conform to the tenets of the Protestant Reformation but also from animosity towards the ethnicity of those who professed Catholicism, particularly to the Irish. This antagonism was most intensely found in Newfoundland where, unlike in Canada, the Penal Laws were strictly applied. However, in spite of the influence the Irish had in English-speaking Canada, it is in Newfoundland that Irish Catholic mores run deepest.

Newfoundland’s rich resources of fish needed people to work in the expanding industry. In the seventeenth century, people from many parts of Ireland, especially Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and Tipperary, rose to the challenge and became seasonal visitors to the Island, working in the fisheries during the summer and returning home at the end of the fishing season in the Autumn. The English Merchants, who reaped the immense profits of the Newfoundland fishery, seldom paid these Irish workers so their financial lot was not improved. However, the fishery did provide them with cheap passage to America and the opportunity of eventually migrating to the American Colonies, where they hoped to find better conditions! Nonetheless, many Irish stayed and created a large and permanent Catholic presence in the Colony of Newfoundland. Under the Penal Laws, the Irish settlers stood little or no chance of either justice or mercy when accused of a crime. Irish Catholics were denied a defence counsel and had no way of knowing an indictment until it was read in court.

In Newfoundland at that time, the Catholic Church was an illegal institution and had great difficulty assisting the Irish in the Colony. Since it operated as an underground organization, its spiritual and religious role was restricted. Under the English Penal Laws, enacted from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I to that of King George III, when they were repealed in 1783, it was hoped to eliminate "Popery" by rendering it impossible for a Catholic to exist, except in the most degraded conditions imaginable. Catholics were barred from holding public office, from operating schools or sitting in parliament. Neither could they own property nor own a horse worth more than $5 and the practice of their religion was forbidden. As well as the Penal Laws, local orders were applied. Catholics could not bury their dead; only an Anglican minister was permitted to read the service of burial and collect a fee for doing so.

Rome was not unaware of its responsibility to the Catholic population and from 1535 to 1784, Newfoundland was under the administration of the Bishop of Rouen, then the Bishop of Quebec and then under the Vicariate of London. A number of itinerant priests were sent to Newfoundland and, at considerable risk, they traversed the rough terrain, covertly said Mass, and then moved on. Aware that Catholics were practising their religion by stealth, the local authorities hunted the itinerant priests who came to the Island disguised as fishermen. These priests hid, said Mass and fled. Punishment for participation in the Mass was severe. One account refers to a Michael Keating of Harbour Main who, in 1755, was fined $50 for allowing Mass to be celebrated in his fish store; his house was demolished, his goods were seized, and he was deported from the Colony. These men were under the constant threat of surveillance by Protestants who felt obliged to report their activities. One example, documented in 1755, stated: “ I am informed that a Roman Catholic priest is at this time at Harbour Grace, and that he publicly read mass which is contrary to the law and against the peace of our sovereign Lord, the King.”

Conditions for Newfoundland's Catholics, predominantly Irish, gradually improved as the laws changed. In 1784, "liberty of conscience" was proclaimed in Newfoundland, the first Catholic chapel was built, and an Irish Franciscan, James Louis O'Donel, was appointed the first Roman Catholic Bishop of St. John's, Newfoundland. More priests came from Ireland and, in 1833, the Presentation Sisters arrived from Galway. The Presentation Sisters were followed by The Sisters of Mercy in 1842 and the Irish Christian Brothers in 1857. Advantages were gained when Catholics received the vote and were able to sit in the assembly and on the Legislative Council. For these early Catholic settlers to the Colony of Newfoundland, the struggle to obtain their religious rights was long and difficult. Be that as it may, the Newfoundland Irish expressed a unique culture in various dialects, crafts, and traditions which are still identifiable. The Irish language was commonly spoken among the Newfoundland Irish until the beginning of the nineteenth century, creating an Irish pattern of speech and vocabulary that is evident even today in Newfoundland English. The Catholic Faith, which was sown in suffering, perseverance and faithfulness, flourishes today and the many churches built with the pennies and free labour of poor Irish fishermen are their memorials.
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